Datamonitor notes knowledge gap, concern over natural personal care products

NEW YORK Many consumers worldwide believe that personal care products formulated with natural ingredients are better for them; however, they still are concerned about product efficacy, and most consider themselves unknowledgeable when it comes to the impact of chemicals on their health, according to recent research by research-firm Datamonitor.

More than half (52%) of consumers globally believed that natural ingredients were better for them, and they believed that synthetic ingredients could irritate the skin due to the chemicals used, such as phthalates, parabens and triclosan. They also increasingly are looking for natural alternatives, according to Datamonitor's July/August 2010 consumer survey. It is this "healthy halo" that consumers feel when they use natural rather than synthetic ingredients that has driven the market for natural personal care products.

Globally, Datamonitor also found that 57% of consumers were either extremely concerned or somewhat concerned about knowing the ingredients used in cosmetics and toiletries. There was, however, a significant knowledge gap, as the Datamonitor survey found that only 16% of global consumers considered themselves highly informed about the impact of chemicals used in everyday products on their health.

Despite the growing concern over the ingredients used in personal care products, consumers also were found to be ambivalent about the efficacy of natural ingredients in personal care. Datamonitor found that 37% of global consumers agreed with the statement, "Health and beauty products formulated with natural ingredients are equally as effective as non-natural products." Meanwhile, 44% of consumers neither agreed nor disagreed. The data suggested that marketers still have some way to go to convince consumers that natural ingredients are just as effective as synthetic ingredients.

"Shoppers will not be prepared to sacrifice performance benefits when it comes to personal care, particularly as many are actively seeking to minimize the time spent on personal hygiene/grooming," stated Matthew Jones, consumer trends analyst at Datamonitor. "Price is also a factor, as consumers will find it difficult to justify any price premiums when there is doubt as to whether they will even see good results."

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